‘Here Lies Love’ takes inspiration from Imelda Marcos

‘Here Lies Love’ creator David Byrne recalls video of Imelda Marcos dancing with Saudi magnate

/ 01:42 PM October 09, 2023

Lea Salonga as Aurora Aquino in “Here Lies Love”

Lea Salonga as Aurora Aquino in “Here Lies Love”

Here Lies Love creator David Byrne recalled his inspiration behind the revolutionary Broadway musical, that of former First Lady Imelda Marcos dancing with the late Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi in her New York townhouse.

During a “Late Night with Seth Meyers” interview, Byrne said he came across an old video of Marcos clubbing with Khashoggi, then a wealthy magnate whose business interests and influence expands to governments and in social circles, as their reflection was shown in a “mirror ball.”


Byrne said this image piqued his interest about a potential “story.”


“I read that Imelda Marcos loved going to clubs, she had a mirror ball installed in her New York townhouse which we all don’t have. So I googled that, and saw a video of her dancing under her home mirror ball with Khashoggi, the arms dealer,” he said.

“And I thought, she lives in this world that I’ve been thinking about if there could be a show that way. And look who she’s dancing with? There’s a story here,” he continued.


The video that Byrne was referring to, however, couldn’t be found on video-sharing platform YouTube or other sites, as of this writing.

The US-based musician then shared that he wanted to tell a story where the audience is “not just paying attention every second” before seeing the video of the former first lady with Khashoggi.

“Way back in the day, I’ve been to some discos but I usually went to see the musical act performing… I like the idea of, ‘What if you can have an audience that’s only half paying attention?’ Somehow that appealed to me. Because I thought, ‘They’ll absorb the story. They don’t have to just be paying attention every second,’” he said.

While touching on his love for dance, Byrne said the musical’s theme is “very exciting” as it features an “all-Filipino” cast telling their own stories. Aside from Byrne, Fatboy Slim is also behind the musical production.

The cast includes Arielle Jacobs, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, and Tony-winning Lea Salonga who took on the role of Aurora Aquino on a limited run and veteran singer Vina Morales.

“[‘Here Lies Love’] is very exciting. They’re kind of telling the story of their own country,” he said.

“Here Lies Love,” which marked its first Broadway run last July 20, tells the story of the rise and fall of Marcos and her husband, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in the 1980s.

Throughout its run, “Here Lies Love” grappled with controversy, with netizens criticizing its storyline for “romanticizing Imelda Marcos and glamorizing martial law.” The show’s producers, however, clarified that it’s a story that gives Filipinos and Filipino Americans an opportunity to “explore, grapple with, and interrogate a vital part of their history.” EDV

TAGS: David Byrne, Here Lies Love, Imelda Marcos

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